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Op-Ed: Rape Culture Awareness And Bill Cosby Allegations Raise Uncomfortable Questions



The allegations against Bill Cosby have been circulating for far too long to not be examined more closely.

On November 17, 2014, Whoopi Goldberg expressed doubts about the allegations made by Barbara Bowman, the woman who accused Bill Cosby of raping her when she was seventeen. She is the fifth of now seventeen women to publicly accuse the 77-year-old of sexual assault.

“Perhaps the police might have believed it. Or the hospital. Don’t you do a kit when you say someone has raped you?” Goldberg asked.

This is not about gender, it’s about power. Men who are raped experience the same shame and carry the same burdens. Perhaps, in some cases, even more, given the society’s gender expectations that have been shattered by the violation, along with the personal, physical assault.

Taking one’s rapist to task is not simply a matter of telling the truth in the hopes one’s accusations will be taken seriously (validated only by the findings of a rape kit and a corroborating statement to law enforcement). Asserting one’s power in this context, requires a deep, inner strength to face the consequences of the rape long after the incident itself.

In an open letter to Whoopi Goldberg on, Lis Spikol takes her to task on her reluctance to believe Bowman for not reporting Cosby at the time of the assault.

“Why don’t we tell, Whoopi? Because our skin burns with shame. I thought my body would never get clean, not only from him but from my own stupidity and weakness. The minute after it ended I felt like I was being torn into pieces, like I was on fire, and I just wanted to shower. I felt crazy, confused, angry, beaten, lost, like I had a zipper running from throat to naval. I felt more alone than I’ve ever felt before or since. I felt like the severed pieces of my body were floating in darkness. I felt savaged. I felt terrified.”

Former supermodel Janice Dickinson has also been added to the growing list of women stepping out publicly to accuse comedian of sexual assault. In a graphically detailed interview with Entertainment Tonight, she relayed the incident she says happened in 1982.

“The last thing I remember was Bill Cosby in a patchwork robe, dropping his robe and getting on top of me. And I remember a lot of pain. The next morning I remember waking up with my pajamas off and there was semen in between my legs,” said Ms. Dickinson. 

As to why she waited until now to say anything, Ms. Dickinson expressed an all too familiar response. “I was afraid of the consequences. I was afraid of being labelled a whore or a slut and trying to sleep my way to the top of a career that never took place,” she said, “I want to talk about this now and I want to really support the other women who have gone through this.”

Cecile Lipworth, Managing Director at V-Day empathized with Ms. Spikol. “Over the years that I’ve worked with so many women who have been raped/sexually assaulted, many have said almost exactly the same thing,” she told me. “The last line of this letter is the most powerful and is exactly the cost of violence against women that I know – so many women I have met merely survive the rest of their lives…they ‘haven’t completed any of my life’s coursework since that night.’”

In certain cultures, one’s value as a human being is diminished by the act that’s been leveled against the victim. It’s why some victims are murdered under the disgusting guise of “honor killing” because they surely must have provoked the attack by simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Forever tarnished whores violating the sanctity and purity of entitled male expectation.

Families are shamed and shunned as well. Making a claim against a rapist or attacker subjects the victim to ridicule, humiliation and punishment – even from, if not especially by, the very police to whom the crime is being reported to the hospital administering an invasive, painful inspection with the contents of the rape kit, assuming there is one.

Patriarchic religions demand that women cover themselves from head to toe because the onus rests upon the women to deter the violent sexual behavior of men, rather than demand control from the men for whom women exist as mere objects.

The perils of ignoring rape allegations coupled with high profile accusations and exonerations complicate our response (or lack thereof) to sexual assault. 

On November 19, 2014, a Rolling Stone magazine article, “A Rape on Campus: A Brutal Assault and Struggle for Justice at UVA,” by Sabrina Rubin Erdely went viral. The jaw-dropping account of Jackie – a freshman at the University of Virginia – detailed her harrowing ordeal after she was brutally assaulted by seven men at a frat party. A gruesome tale that epitomizes the essence of rape culture. A female friend, in the immediate aftermath, questioned the wisdom of going to hospital given the cost to Jackie’s reputation. The ostracism that would inevitably follow the “girl who cried ‘rape’.” Jackie didn’t go to the hospital that night.  

On November 22, 2014, in a mea culpa response to the Rolling Stone article, University of Virginia President Teresa A. Sullivan suspended all fraternity activity until January, admitting the organization’s failure to respond appropriately.

“The wrongs described in Rolling Stone are appalling and have caused all of us to reexamine our responsibility to this community. Rape is an abhorrent crime that has no place in the world, let alone on the campuses and grounds of our nation’s colleges and universities,” wrote Ms. Sullivan in an officially released statement. “We know, and have felt very powerfully this week, that we are better than we have been described, and that we have a responsibility to live our tradition of honor every day, and as importantly every night.” 

Jackie’s ordeal shines a light on the power imbalance. To the extent that the rapists are students from the University of Virginia, her account is tantamount to betrayal of the institution. Sullying their reputation, dragging them down with her. Where appearances are valued above ethics and loyalty toward the brand, trumps the transgression of the individual. There’s a reason some students call the institution “UVrApe.”

Ms. Sullivan may have suspended fraternity activities in belated embarrassment in the wake of Rolling Stone’s exposé, but in the culture of America’s alumni system, there’s only one person who will “never eat lunch in this town again,” and none of them are Jackie’s rapists.

Bill Cosby is a globally recognized and respected celebrity. And at the time of these assaults, much loved. The allegations are beginning to take their toll, however, as NBC and Netflix have both canceled Cosby projects, and TV Land has pulled Cosby Show reruns.

In an interview in Australia on Friday, Cosby finally responded to the allegations, stating: “”I know people are tired of me not saying anything, but a guy doesn’t have to answer to innuendos. People should fact check. People shouldn’t have to go through that and shouldn’t answer to innuendos.” 

In a stunning display of cluelessness and contextual tone deafness, CNN anchor Don Lemon told one of the alleged victims, Joan Tarshis, who alleges Cosby raped her when she was 19, that “there are ways not to perform oral sex if you didn’t want to do it”. His remedy for warding off the assault – use her teeth. As is the pattern, Ms. Tarshis didn’t report the rape because she felt that no one would believe a teenager’s word against “Mr. America.”

Taking on Cosby would be difficult for anyone, let alone a young girl, who would not only be faced with the comparably endless resources at his disposal to discredit her, but her own self-doubt, fear compounding the injuries to both her body and psyche. And while reporting a rape will almost guarantee a challenge to the victim’s integrity, according to Ms. Rubin Erdely, studies indicate that false rape reports account for, at most, eight percent of reports. There’s not much of an upside to pretending to be raped.

In racially charged America, Bill Cosby’s behavior is especially disappointing. Not to mention how ironic his admonishments to young black men, to buck up and pull up their baggy pants, seem now.

Perhaps it is why Whoopi Goldberg is desperate to give Bill Cosby the benefit of any doubt. And while Goldberg has certainly experienced life as a black woman, her extraordinary success affords her a unique prism. And a position of privilege that perhaps informs her opinions, along with a platform from which to express them.

The election of America’s first black President has unleashed some of the worst racism we’ve seen in America in decades. With the Ku Klux Klan alive and well and inciting hate in Ferguson, it’s natural to want to defend a role model and beloved figure like Bill Cosby, and question the motives and doubts of anyone wanting to bring him down. But challenging the words of a victim of sexual assault, no matter how long after the incident, is part of another pattern, and reason why women feel conflicted about coming forward to begin with.

Whether we like it or not, the Bill Cosby saga is complicated by gender, race, privilege and celebrity. As was the violent gang rape at West Virginia University. Former President Bill Clinton faced sexual assault accusations, and there are some opining that there’s a double standard at play.

But at its heart, like rape itself, this is a story about power.

There’s no escaping that if a young Barbara Bowman was raped by Bill Cosby, the questioning of her motives, and reactions like those of Whoopi Goldberg do a disservice to women everywhere. Attitudes that underscore the very reason for which she’s being attacked and doubted today. That taking on one’s attacker is not only difficult, (and not only in extreme circumstances like Jackie’s) but sets one on a path that will lay bare one’s deepest fears, perpetuate one’s self-doubt and re-victimize one over and over again. 

No matter how soon or far after the event itself, reporting it is a continuation of the assault. And that’s a best case scenario.

Long after the physical pain has subsided and wounds have healed. If indeed, they ever do. 


Image: Clinton Fein

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‘All-Out War’: Trump’s Attorney Tells Kimberly Guilfoyle Ex-President Will Be ‘Loud and Proud’ When Showing Up for Indictment



Donald Trump’s attorney for Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s hush money case against the ex-president was interviewed by Kimberly Guilfoyle for her new show on Monday. Guilfoyle is engaged to Donald Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump, Jr.

Attorney Joe Tacopina told Guilfoyle, the ex-Fox News host, that the ex-president will happily show up in Manhattan if and when DA Alvin Bragg indicts him.

Guilfoyle asked Tacopina if Trump is indicted would he want them to “do it virtually,” presumably so Trump could participate from Mar-a-Lago.

Frowning, Tacopina said the district attorney and prosecutors “do what they want.. At this point, this is an all-out war.”

“Donald Trump is the toughest human being I’ve ever met,” Tacopina continued.

“Donald Trump is not going to ask for anything from them. If they want him at 100 Centre Street,” the address of the New York County Criminal Court and NYPD Manhattan Central Booking, Tacopina told Guilfoyle, “he’ll be there loud and proud, and there’s nobody that’s gonna make him cower.”

READ MORE: Republicans Are ‘Obstructing Justice’ and ‘Becoming Accessories’ to Trump’s ‘Crimes’: Former Prosecutor

Guilfoyle does not appear to disclose her relationship to either Trump in her video, which is produced to appear as an actual news show, during which she shares legal theory with viewers.

Tacopina tells Guilfoyle Trump is the victim, and the only crime was extortion. The grand jury likely will have a difference of opinion.

He also falsely calls The Wall Street Journal, a sister entity to Fox News and The New York Post – all owned by Rupert Murdoch – a “far-left” publication.

Watch a short clip below or at this link.

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Republicans Are ‘Obstructing Justice’ and ‘Becoming Accessories’ to Trump’s ‘Crimes’: Former Prosecutor



In the wake of Donald Trump‘s numerous recent social media rants attacking various prosecutors investigating his possibly unlawful acts, and his claim over the weekend that he will be indicted on Tuesday, many House and Senate Republicans have been rushing to his defense, wrongly claiming he is the victim of a political prosecution.

At least two former federal prosecutors are blasting them, with one saying it is “illegal” to interfere with an ongoing criminal investigation, and another warning Republicans are engaging in obstruction of justice and are becoming “accessories after the fact.”

On Saturday, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy slammed Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, who is expected this week to indict the former president.

“Here we go again — an outrageous abuse of power by a radical DA who lets violent criminals walk as he pursues political vengeance against President Trump,” McCarthy wrongly told Americans. “I’m directing relevant committees to immediately investigate if federal funds are being used to subvert our democracy by interfering in elections with politically motivated prosecutions.”

READ MORE: Trump Files Sweeping Legal Motion to Try to Block Georgia Grand Jury Findings and District Attorney Fani Willis

McCarthy’s tweet was highly criticized, including by retired Democratic U.S. Congressman John Yarmouth of Kentucky.

“I may end being not fully accurate, but Kevin McCarthy may be implicitly endorsing falsifying business records, tax fraud, campaign finance crime, and more, including obstruction of justice, when undermining the justice system is exactly what his tweet does,” tweeted Yarmouth.

McCarthy didn’t stop there.

“Alvin Bragg is abusing his office to target President Trump while he’s reduced a majority of felonies, including violent crimes, to misdemeanors. He has different rules for political opponents,” McCarthy alleged on Sunday. “Republicans stopped the radical DC crime law, and we will investigate any use of federal funds that are used to facilitate the perversion of justice by Soros-backed DA’s across the country.”

Some Republicans injected what many see as the GOP’s increasing embrace of antisemitism into their attacks against Bragg.

U.S. Senator J.D. Vance (R-OH) on Sunday tweeted: “Alvin Bragg is bought by George Soros. He allows violent criminals to walk the streets of New York City, but will prosecute the likely Republican nominee (and former president) on a baseless misdemeanor charge. These people are trying to turn America into a third-world country.”

Elise Stefanik (R-NY), the Chair of the House Republican Conference and an ultra-MAGA extremist, also used the Soros reference, which experts have said can be antisemitic: “The Soros-backed woke prosecutor Alvin Bragg must testify under oath before Congress.”

Attorney and writer David Lurie, pointing to both McCarthy’s and Vance’s tweets, wrote: “GOP politicians like McCarthy, Trump and JD Vance now routinely include antisemitic conspiracism in their political rhetoric.” He linked to this article he wrote at Public Notice.

“JD Vance is advancing a claim that a Jew ‘bought’ a respected prosecutor, who just happens to be Black,” Lurie added. “Double bigotry in just one tweet.”

U.S. Senator Rick Scott (R-FL) also engaged in the antisemitic “Soros-backed” reference.

READ MORE: ‘RICO’: Trump Could Be Facing Racketeering and Conspiracy Charges Used to Prosecute Organized Crime

Speaker McCarthy “is right,” Scott tweeted, “and I fully support his call for an investigation. No federal dollars should be used to prop up this radical, Soros-backed activist attorney or his gross political attacks.”

U.S. Senator Steve Daines (R-MT) on Sunday said District Attorney Bragg “should focus on the violent criminals terrorizing New York instead of pursuing politically motivated charges against” Donald Trump.

On Monday, a former federal prosecutor for 30 years, Glenn Kirschner, issued a warning for Republicans.

“In a very real sense, congressional Republicans who use their power & their office to thwart criminal prosecutions of Donald Trump are becoming accessories after the fact to Trump’s crimes. They are obstructing justice. And we can expect [it] to continue if it goes unaddressed.”

Kirschner was responding to this tweet from noted Harvard professor of law (retired) Laurence Tribe: “House Republicans are gathered at a luxury resort near Disney World where House Judiciary Chair JIM JORDAN (R-Ohio) & senior GOP leaders are preparing to demand testimony from members of Manhattan DA’s Office amid reports of an imminent Trump indictment.”

READ MORE: ‘This Man Is a Criminal’: George Conway Busts GOP’s ‘Completely Ridiculous’ Trump Defense

Monday afternoon Jordan and his colleagues did just that, sending a letter to Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, demanding he hand over communications and testify before Congress to explain his prosecution of Trump.

“Was the Manhattan DA’s office in communication with DOJ about their investigation of President Trump?” Jordan tweeted. “Was the Manhattan DA’s office using federal funds to investigate President Trump? Alvin Bragg owes our committee answers.”

In response, U.S. Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA), an attorney and former military prosecutor with the U.S. Air Force Judge Advocate General’s Corps, called Jordan’s actions “illegal.”

“Dear @Jim_Jordan,” Lieu tweeted. “Local prosecutors, including DA Bragg, owe you nothing. In fact, it is illegal for you and @JudiciaryGOP to interfere in an ongoing criminal investigation, or a criminal trial (if there is one).”


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Jim Jordan Waging ‘Purely Political Attack’: Demands Bragg Testify Before Congress Over Expected Trump Indictment



In an unprecedented move House Republican Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan is demanding Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg testify before Congress over his expected indictment of Donald Trump. Bragg, officially the New York County District Attorney, is an elected official whose office was created under the New York State Constitution and does not answer to Congress.

Professor of law and former U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance quickly blasted Jordan’s move, saying: “what jurisdiction does Congress have over a DA elected by Manhattanites? Sure, Jordan will talk about fed’l funding, but this is a purely political attack on local gov’t.”

Earlier Monday, reacting to Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s remarks, Vance said: “It’s not up to House Republicans to review Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg’s conduct. It’s up to Manhattan voters. If Trump is indicted, a jury will decide whether there’s sufficient evidence to convict. The GOP continues to undercut our democratic institutions to serve Trump.”

Jordan’s letter, he writes to Bragg: “In light of the serious consequences of your actions, we expect that you will testify about what plainly appears to be a politically motivated prosecutorial decision,” according to a Fox Corp. article. The website also says it was signed by two other Republicans: House Oversight Committee Chair Jim Comer and House Committee on Administration Chair Brian Steil. None have any oversight authority on the Office of the Manhattan District Attorney.

READ MORE: Trump Files Sweeping Legal Motion to Try to Block Georgia Grand Jury Findings and District Attorney Fani Willis

“Jordan warned Bragg that if news reports of a possible Trump indictment are accurate, Bragg’s actions ‘will erode confidence in the evenhanded application of justice and unalterably interfere in the court of the 2024 presidential election,'” Fox adds.

“The legal theory underlying your reported prosecution appears to be tenuous and untested,” Jordan wrote. He also attacked former Trump attorney Michael Cohen, who has testified extensively in the case before the grand jury.

Just before leaving office Trump awarded Jordan the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

According to former Trump White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson who testified publicly and privately before the U.S. House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack, Jordan discussed pardons with the White House for Republican Members of Congress, although she says he did not ask for one himself. Jordan also defied a subpoena from the January 6 Select Committee.

In a Monday morning interview with Fox Corp.’s Harris Faulkner, Jordan falsely describes Trump’s hush money payment to adult film actress and director Stormy Daniels as “some alleged bookkeeping error.” The expected charges have neither been voted on by the grand jury nor announced.

“Charges in NY are expected to involve false business records created to conceal Trump’s payment of hush money to Stormy Daniels but there are possible charges involving manipulating property values for tax, loan & insurance advantages,” Vance also  said Monday.

READ MORE: ‘RICO’: Trump Could Be Facing Racketeering and Conspiracy Charges Used to Prosecute Organized Crime

Watch video of Jordan discussing the letter and see the letter itself below or at this link:



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